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Leaders draft letter to Virginia Tech

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, April 19, 2007

At their first meeting following the shooting deaths of 32 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech, the Student Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to send a letter to the mourning community to express its condolences.

Student body president Liz Brown wrote the letter after she received several e-mails from students and senators asking the student government to do something in the wake of the tragedy.

The letter, signed by Brown and vice president Maris Braun as representatives of the Student Senate, expressed Notre Dame’s shock and sorrow after Monday’s events, when Virginia Tech senior Cho Seung-Hui opened fire – first in a dorm and then in a classroom building – before turning the gun on himself.

“Despite the many miles that separate our campuses, the victims of this tragedy, as well as the entire Virginia Tech community, remain at the forefront of our thoughts and always in our prayers,” the letter reads. “No amount of words will take away the pain and suffering of these events, but we pray that God will guide you through this difficult time.”

The letter also describes several memorial events the student government intends to hold today and in the next few days.

The student government plans to send posters depicting the mascots of each of the 27 dorms, signed by members of the Notre Dame community. Included with the posters, Brown said, will be a note of solidarity to say that Virginia Tech is included in the Notre Dame community.

Students can sign the posters today from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. and on Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the main television lounge in LaFortune. Students can also sign the posters on Fieldhouse Mall today and Friday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Each person who signs the posters will receive a maroon or orange ribbon – Virginia Tech’s colors – as a sign to show their solidarity with the school, Brown said.

A rosary service is planned at the Grotto for Friday, although no definitive time has been announced.

Senators disagreed over whether to light 32 candles at the Grotto or 33 – to include the gunman. Brown’s original letter stated that the Notre Dame community would light 32 candles entwined with maroon and orange ribbons.

But Morrissey senator Tom Bacsik asked the Senate to consider whether or not to change that number to 33 to include Cho. Zahm senator Nick McCollum said he believed the number should be changed.

“I feel as a Catholic university, we do stand for forgiveness, and I think we should still pray for him for what he did,” McCollum said. “I think we should forgive him.”

Residence Life committee chair Mariana Montes questioned whether people at Virginia Tech – which is not a predominately Catholic university – would find Notre Dame’s forgiveness offensive.

Brown said she would make the decision to change or not to change the number according to the number listed on Virginia Tech’s Web site, allowing the school to make the decision about how many victims there were.

In other Senate news:

u Representatives from USA Today’s College Readership Program delivered a one-year assessment of the program to the Senate. The presentation included figures abut how many total newspapers are consumed by students on a daily basis, with breakdowns according to vending location and newspaper type.

After the presentation, senators unanimously passed two resolutions to expand vending locations to spots on the first floor of the Hesburgh Library and in the basement of Mendoza College of Business.

u Senators also unanimously passed a resolution to prioritize minority faculty recruitment and voted on Senate liaisons to the Council of Representatives, the Financial Management Board, the Judicial Council and Campus Life Council.